Red Anchor Admiral by United Cigars

United Cigars is a company that is richly steeped in U.S. tobacco history. It began as a U.S.-based cigar store chain in 1901 and would go to 3,000 shops. United Cigar eventually became part of the corporation that bought Marvel Comics in 1968. Several years ago David Garofalo acquired United Cigars. Since then, the company has established its presence as a strong distribution arm – most notably being the distributor for Nelson Alfonso’s Selected Tobacco. In addition, the company works directly with factories and has developed its own brands. Garofalo, who has a penchant for cigar history, was able to secure the rights to a brand known as Red Anchor for United Cigars. Originally based out of Holland and according to United Cigars, Red Anchor was the first registered trademark for a cigar shop (1770) and later the first cigar brand in history (1772). By 1937, the company was out of business. In 2022 Red Anchor was relaunched (with one size) and this year the brand will undergo expansion with four new sizes. Today we take a closer at that first release, the Red Anchor Admiral (Toro size).

Dutch packaging of Red Anchor (before United Cigars acquired the brand) Image Credit: United Cigars

As mentioned, United Cigars works directly with factories to produce some of its own cigars. To produce the Red Anchor, United would turn to Hendrik Kelner Jr., the son of the famed Henke Kelner of Davidoff. For the past ten years, Kelner Jr. has operated his own factory called KBF (Kelner Boutique Factory). It’s a true boutique factory focusing on small production and limited tobaccos. Priced between $15.00 and $30.00 MSRP, Red Anchor is being distributed as a super-premium brand, something the Kelner family is quite familiar with. Given the Dutch heritage of the Kelner family, it was also appropriate to have someone from the Kelner family work on it.

For now, without further ado, let’s break down the Red Anchor Admiral and see what this cigar brings to the table.


Blend and Origin

The blend features an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper. The binder is a Dominican-grown tobacco by the Kelner family known as Monte Plata. The fillers consist of Dominican San Vincente, Dominican Habano, and Pennsylvania tobacco. As mentioned above, production is handled out of KBF which is located in the Dominican Republic.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000
Binder: Dominican Monte Plata (Kelner Family Farm)
Filler: Dominican San Vincente, Dominican Habano ’92, Pennsylvanian
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: KBF (Kelner Boutique Factory)

Vitolas Offered

At press time, Red Anchor is only available in this size:

Admiral: 6 x 52

There are four other sizes being launched at the 2023 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show.

Gunner: 6 1/2 x 43
Captain: 5 x 50
Commodore: 7 x 55
Cooper: 4 1/2 x 43

All of the sizes are regular production cigars that are available in 25-count boxes with the exception of the Red Anchor Cooper which is being positioned as an event-only cigar.


The Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper of the Red Anchor Admiral had a medium brown color with a Colorado Red tint to it. There also was a light sheen of oil on the surface of the wrapper. The Red Anchor Admiral had some prominent veins. Any wrapper seams that were visible were on the thin side.


Pre-Light Draw

A straight cut was used to commence the cigar experience of the Red Anchor Admiral. Once the cap of the Red Anchor was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw stage. The cold draw delivered notes of mushroom, cedar, hay, and some natural tobacco sweetness. This was a satisfying pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to toast the footer of the Red Anchor Admiral and see what the smoking phase would have in store.

Tasting Notes

The Red Anchor Admiral opened up with notes of natural tobacco, cherry sweetness, hay, cedar, and a slight black pepper note. Early on the natural tobacco and cherry notes moved into the forefront with the hay, cedar, and black pepper settling in the background. The natural tobacco and cherry soon developed a fusion and essentially morphed into a single note where the flavors seemed intertwined. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of natural tobacco and cherry sweetness along with some black pepper on the retro-hale.

During the second third of the Red Anchor, the fused natural tobacco and cherry note became more of a natural tobacco sweetness with the cherry notes essentially disappearing. During this phase, the hay, cedar, and pepper remained in the background with the hay notes having a slight advantage.

The final third saw the natural tobacco sweetness still the primary note. This was rounded out nicely by the hay, cedar, pepper, and now re-emerged cherry notes. This is the way the Red Anchor Admiral came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.


While the Red Anchor Admiral did maintain a straight burn path and have a relatively straight burn line, the cigar did require several touch-ups to do so. While the touch-ups kept the burn on track, there were more frequent touch-ups than I prefer. The resulting ash was firm with a silver-gray color to it. Generally, the ash came off the cigar in clean chunks. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.

Red Anchor Admiral -Burn_

Burn of the Red Anchor Admiral


The draw of the Red Anchor Admiral performed outstandingly. This was a draw that had a touch of resistance to it – which if you have read this author’s assessments throughout the years, is something that I prefer. At the same time, this was a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.

Strength and Body

The strength and body of the Red Anchor came in at the low end of medium. There was a slight increase in the intensity of both attributes along the way, but in the end, the Admiral remained in the medium range of the spectrum (on the higher end) for strength and body. Both the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.


Oliver Nivaud and the team simply knocked it out of the park with the banding and packaging on the Red Anchor. Of course, the branding is highlighted by a red anchor, but the use of red and antique white accents to frame the pencil sketch really makes this brand shine. It not only makes the history of this brand pop out, but it very much has the feel of what an ultra-premium cigar (in this case the Admiral is a $25.00) should be housed in.

I’ve heard many people say the box doesn’t matter. While this beautiful design isn’t something built into the final score, it’s a box you will probably want to keep as a collector’s item.

Packaging of the Red Anchor Admiral



Final Thoughts

While the packaging was amazing on this cigar, I’m also pleased to report this cigar was excellent as well – scoring 90 points and giving it our hard-to-achieve “standard of excellence”. Hendrik Kelner Jr and KBF did a fantastic job. There are points when this cigar reminded me of the Kelner family – and then there are times Hendrik Jr. puts his own touch on the cigar. The cigar scored very nicely on the flavor component. At $25.00, this is an expensive cigar, but I would put this cigar against many other cigars in this price range on the market. It’s one that I would most definitely buy and smoke again. I look forward to the future sizes coming out.


Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Hay, Cherry, Cedar, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium
Finish: Very Good


Value: Buy One
Score: 90
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence


News: United Cigars to Relaunch Red Anchor at 2022 PCA Trade Show
Price: $25.00
Source: Purchased
Brand Reference: Red AnchorUnited Cigar

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted